Category Archives for "Culture"
While the evidence put forward that gun controls work is compelling, gun-control measures are unlikely to strengthen.
New books look at guns, mass shootings and the victims from the angles of those both for and against stricter gun laws.
In “Another Day in the Death of America”, a journalist, Gary Younge, examines the most excruciating gun casualties of all: children and teenagers. The book recounts the stories of the ten young people, aged 19 or under, who were shot and killed on the arbitrarily selected date of Saturday November 23rd 2013.
The result is a sharp portrait of America, painted in blood. The victims are white, black and Latino (though mainly the latter two), from all over the country. For example: A nine-year-old shot by his mother’s vengeful ex-boyfriend. An eleven year-old shot in the head by a friend as they played with a rifle. A sixteen year old killed by a friend while goofing around with a pistol they had bought.
In “Rampage Nation”, Louis Klarevas, a security expert, looks at mass shootings, such as the school massacres at Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech. These types of attacks are the most well known and documented but they account for only a small number of firearm homicides.
All violent crimes, Mr Klarevas notes, are composed of a perpetrator, a target and a weapon. Preventing them involves removing at least one of those elements. But the perpetrators of gun massacres cannot be deterred (most already plan to die); anyone can be a target, and protecting everyone all the time is impossible. The only plausible strategy is to restrict sales of guns that rapidly fire large numbers of bullets.
By Gary Younge. Nation Books; 267 pages; $25.99.
Guardian Faber; £16.99.
By Louis Klarevas.Prometheus;
397 pages; $25.
By Cody Wilson. Gallery Books; 320 pages; $26.
People want more than just freedom and choice. They want to belong, they want community rooted in something shared and they want to find meaning beyond themselves.
Nick Spencer argues that the positive effects of the West’s Christian history are downplayed and that it still has role to play in people’s lives.
People still want more than just freedom and choice. They want to belong, they want community rooted in something shared and they want to find meaning beyond themselves.
Having arrived at the secular self we kept on searching.
By Nick Spencer.
SPCK; 190 pages; £9.99.
How Christianity Has Shaped Our Values. Comments welcome below.
Our time is more universal and more precise than ever, yet we dream of making it less unyielding and unforgiving.
John Lancaster reviews Time Travel: A History and asks can we escape from Time?
We know now that the speed of light in empty space is constant, 299,792,458 meters per second. No rocket ship can overtake a flash of light or reduce that number in the slightest.
Einstein struggled (“psychic tension”; “all sorts of nervous conflict”) to make sense of that: to accept the speed of light as absolute. Something else had to give.
On a fine bright day in Bern (as he told the story later), he talked it over with his friend Michele Besso. “Next day I came back to him again and said to him, without even saying hello, ‘Thank you. I’ve completely solved the problem.”
If light speed is absolute, then time itself cannot be.
Westerners will consume 6,000 calories on December 25th, over twice the recommended daily intake for men.
The Economist looks at a new book on Sugar. Gary Taubes is an American Science writer who focuses on the ills of sugar arguing that dietary fat is not the main cause of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
In the 1960s John Yudkin, a nutritionist at the University of London, proposed that obesity, diabetes and heart disease were linked with sugar consumption. Though he acknowledged that existing research, his own included, was incomplete, he became embroiled in a scientific spitting match with Ancel Keys, a well-known American researcher.
Keys, whose work on dietary fat as the prime cause of coronary disease had been supported by the Sugar Association for years, ridiculed Yudkin, calling his evidence a “mountain of nonsense.”
The clash—Mr Taubes calls it a “takedown” of Yudkin—is a sad chapter in what Robert Lustig, a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, calls “a long and sordid history of dietary professionals in the U.S. who have been paid off by industry”.
When Yudkin retired as chair of his department in 1971, the university replaced him with an adherent of the dietary-fat theory.
The Case Against Sugar.
by Gary Taubes.
Knopf; 368 pages; $26.95.
Sugar is bad for you. Really bad. Your comments are welcome below: